Sometimes my life feels like a neverending circle of doctors. I’ve not even been in Florida six months and already I’ve had one surgery, two separate hospital stays, and parts of 17 days in the hospital. And now I’m on IV fluids at home for the foreseeable future.
My ileostomy is still dysfunctional, nearly six weeks out from surgery. My output is still too high and too thin. As a result, I was discharged from my last hospital stay (August 3rd) with orders for IV hydration at home three times a week. Last week my surgeon upped that to daily IV hydration. I saw my surgeon again yesterday and he told me at this point, it’s likely to be another 3-6 months before my ileostomy sorts itself out. Yes, that’s months. So then I’m probably going to be on home IV fluids for awhile too.
My quarterly oncology appointment is next week, with my abdomen/pelvis/chest CT scans having been completed last week. No matter how good someone might be at controlling anxiety, “scanxiety” gets even the best of us. “Scanxiety” is anxiety surrounding new medical scans of any variety and waiting for the results. My anxiety is typically well controlled, but scanxiety still sneaks up on me from time to time. Hopefully everything is normal so that I can have a relatively boring appointment with my oncologist next week.
None of this is what I expected when I moved to Florida this May with my parents. I certainly didn’t expect needing to find a colorectal surgeon or having a new medical experience (at home fluids). I sincerely miss the days when medically my life was uncomplicated. I’ll even take going back to last summer when I was feeling great and doing whatever I wanted. I had recovered from chemo & my latest hospital stay and my second surgery hadn’t happened yet. But I can’t go back. All I can do is move forward and make the best of what I’ve got.
Yep, for those unaware, I had a second hospital stay recently. I was discharged from my initial hospital stay on July 20th and had an appointment the following Monday (27th) to see my surgeon for a followup. My stoma didn’t look great, but that’s a different conversation. Otherwise, things were going well enough when I saw my surgeon. Output was still a little high, but I was managing alright. However, that Monday night, my output went nuts again. I ended up going to urgent care for fluids on Tuesday as I was dehydrated. They called my surgeon who then wanted to see me the following day – Wednesday the 29th.
When I saw my surgeon, he prescribed a couple new medications to try. One was a drug similar to Imodium, but more powerful. The other was a cholesterol medication you mixed into a drink. He wanted to see me again on Friday. He also said if I was still feeling bad the next day or prior to my appointment on Friday, I could call his office for a direct admit to the hospital. For those unaware, direct admits are when your doctor admits you to the hospital and bypasses the ER.
I was then up all night Wednesday night emptying my bag. It was filling up every 90-120 minutes. At that speed, not only could I not drink enough to keep up, my digestive system was moving so fast that it couldn’t absorb anything I drank. I made the decision after I got up to call my doctor for a direct admit. I called my doctor’s office to leave a message and a little while later got a call back telling me my doctor had put in the orders and the hospital would give me a call as soon as they had a bed open. To my surprise, nearly as soon as I hung up with my doctor’s office, the hospital called. They had a bed ready. Even with packing a bag for the stay and 35 minute drive, I was settled in my hospital room by 11:30. It took some time for my doctor to put the orders in, but eventually I got put on fluids. After being on fluids for 36 hours, I was finally feeling more like myself. My output was still nuts so I was kept on fluids. It was decided that I would get an IV line I could go home with so I could receive IV fluids at home. My output was still high, but with a plan in place for fluids at home, I was discharged on Monday with an IV called a midline. I’ve taken to calling my midline my “appendage.”
I’ve now gotten fluids three times at home and it’s amazing to me how much better I feel afterwards. We had some kinks to work out with the fluid setup, but we’ve now got it working well. Right now I’m set to get fluids three times a week, but I see my doctor tomorrow and will see if I can get fluids every other day. I got fluids on Friday and the plan had been to wait until Monday for the next round, but I needed them today. I noticeably drag by day two and with a headache that just doesn’t quit until I get fluids. That headache is generally my first sign I’m getting dehydrated, especially since neither tylenol or advil will get rid of it. Hopefully fluids aren’t a permanent thing, but I was aware it was a possible complication when I had surgery a year ago to remove my remaining colon and go from a colostomy to an ileostomy.